The youthful pondering of the Mother of God
Sunday, January 1, 2017
Mary, the Mother of God
By Glen Argan
When I form an image of Blessed Virgin Mary at the Nativity, I always need to stop and remember that this is a teenage girl. Too much religious art leaves the impression that she is older, sometimes much older.
Age here is important. Too often we assume teenagers do not have the spiritual wherewithal to ponder as Mary pondered the wondrous events of her life, that one has to be old and “wise” to reflect meaningfully on God’s word.
The students I meet at Newman Theological College, both seminarians and lay, and the young people in my parish who attended World Youth Day last summer impress me with their deep yearning to be at one with Jesus. They may not have the life experience of older folks, but I am blessed to spend some time with them and lap up their commitment and their wisdom.
My parish’s WYD group was mostly young women, and it is no stretch to associate their faith with the faith of Mary. Mary’s “Let it be done to me according to your word” breathes through in their testimonies too.
Several times in the first two chapters of his Gospel, Luke speaks of Mary pondering the words of angels, shepherds and her young son. The details of Mary’s reflections remain unrevealed; indeed, the nature of treasuring and pondering is to be pre-conceptual. The words will come later as pondering reaches fruition, but the faith is alive now.
Mary does give voice to her reflections in her Magnificat (Luke 1.46-55). “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.” In those words of praise, the Old Testament psalms and the Song of Hannah ring through.
If we want to ponder as Mary ponders, the Magnificat can be the scripture that centres our meditation.
Today, there is a tug-of-war between orthodoxy and orthopraxis – right belief and right action. Which is most important? For Mary, they become one in her fiat – “Let it be” – and in her Magnificat: “God has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.”
The source of this treasuring of God’s word is revealed in Sunday’s Second Reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians: “God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (4.6).
Mary is the spouse of the Holy Spirit; the Spirit sparks and guides her pondering. Call upon the Holy Spirit to guide you in your treasuring of God’s word.
Reflect also and often on the words of the Magnificat. It is the prayer of the teenager who had the deepest faith of all.
[Readings: Numbers 6.22-27; Psalm 67; Galatians 4.4-7; Luke 2.16-21]
Thanks for your recent thoughts about the young – 13 was typical marriage age – Mary; and of her special relationship with the Holy Spirit.
Those two happen to receive most of my own prayers.